Struggling, still | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 05, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:16 AM, May 05, 2017

Struggling, still

Small traders around Baitul Mukarram want punishment of culprits

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Nurul Amin saw his makeshift bookstore near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque being gutted in front of him during Hefajat-e Islam's mayhem in Dhaka city four years ago.

He has had a hard time coping with the loss of Tk 1.5 lakh alongside bearing the expenditure of his six-member family in the capital's Jurain.

“I took loans from some close family members to survive immediately after the mayhem,” Nurul said.

On this day back in 2013, thousands of radical Hefajat men terrorised the nation by setting fire to a number of motor vehicles, hundreds of roadside shops and other private and public establishments and by uprooting and damaging a huge number of trees on medians of the capital, especially in Motijheel and its vicinity.

In a quick response, the government within a month after the incident gave Tk 50,000 to each of the 200 small traders who had shops on footpaths around the mosque. 

“Without the help we would not have survived at the time. Book publishers also gave us time to pay back the money for the books that had been burnt. They also supported us by giving new books to start our business all over again.”

Like Nurul, other traders and their businesses are yet to recover fully from the economic setback.

Talking to The Daily Star, more than a dozen victims of the mayhem expressed frustration over the fact that the culprits had not been identified and brought to book.

They said an extensive investigation should be carried out to bring those, whom they call “the enemy of the people and the nation”, under trial and hold them responsible for compensating the victims.

“We want the culprits whether they are from Hefajat or any other party to be brought to book through a proper investigation,” said Nurul who sells books on Islam on the footpath in front of the south-gate of the national mosque.

Abdul Majid, of Comilla, who also sells Islamic books, Abdullah, of Shyamoli, who sells old books, and Zahid Khan and Mohammed Liton, who sell toys on the footpaths near the mosque, echoed Nurul's view.

Abdullah looked deeply concerned while seated before his shop. He has been struggling hard to maintain expenses of his two children's education and repayments for the loans he took before and after the incident.

 “What was our fault that our businesses we so depend on for living hand-to-mouth were destroyed?” said an angry Abdullah.

Zahid said he had taken a loan of Tk 50,000 from an NGO to restart his business that suffered more than Tk 1 lakh loss.

"We couldn't overcome our losses. We are still suffering," he said. 

Meanwhile, Liton has still been giving installments for Tk 1 lakh loan taken from his relatives.

He said many people left their conventional businesses failing to bear the loss. 

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